Axberg creates a particularly believable dynamic with von Sydow. Most of the time Axberg shows Robert being comfortable enough with his brother, and there is the sense of their history together. When this changes though is whenever Karl-Oskar orders Robert around. Axberg is very effective in portraying how every word stings Robert as he is clearly most uncomfortable with taking orders from his brother who is acting as though he is his father. Robert sets out with his friend to California nevertheless and disappears for some time. Eventually he returns and the film reveals what happened in quite a stunning scene. The scene is almost dialogue free though Axberg does compelling work in portraying Robert's progression in the scene. He begins with again an enthusiasm, even greater than before. The trip starts to indications of horror which leaves a fall as Axberg so well loses that enthusiasm once again. This only becomes worse as it seems his survival is even in question and Axberg brings such a terrible despair. Each point is incredibly well met by Axberg's performance as he succeeds in believably makes this transition of his journey all in a single extended sequence that is quite remarkable.
The film then focuses upon Robert back at home with his brother and sister-in-law. Axberg is very moving in these scenes showing that Robert lost so much of himself on his doomed trek to California that left his friend dead. Axberg expresses Robert as a changed man who is now resigned to a certain sadness as he is unable to ever forget what happened to him on the trip. Axberg shows that he no longer even has the will anymore to argue with his brother as he just basically accepts his verbal attacks now. There is one particularly affecting scene where Robert goes to visit a brothel, likely looking to feel some sort of pleasure, and Axberg is terrific as he realizes that Robert can even barely connect with the experience because of how haunted he is by the past. Axberg performance is heartbreaking as he essentially shows that Robert died with his friend, and cannot seem to bear living knowing the things that he has seen. Axberg matches well the performances of Ullmann and von Sydow by giving such power into seemingly such simplicity. Axberg differentiates his work from theirs properly presenting Robert's story as one of a man being lost in a land that was apparently never meant for him.